Firefighters knock down large blaze near Dadeland Mall

Fueled by high winds, flames come within 50 feet of high-priced homes

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Ian Margol - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A large fire broke out Sunday in a nature preserve near the Dadeland Mall in southwest Miami-Dade County. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze, which at one point came within 50 feet of a row of million-dollar homes.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Felipe Lay said the fire started about noon near the 8000 block of Southwest 72nd Avenue. It took firefighters several hours to put out the blaze, Lay said.

"We had a significant grass fire that was coming out of the east, and it was pushing on a row of houses here that we are assigned to protect," Lt. Jason Moghari said. "We were able knock it down with the units that we have on scene."

Moghari said high winds complicated their efforts.

Nearby residents were prepared to evacuate, but they were able to stay put, and no one was hurt.

Gloria Perez's home backs up to the park, where she and her husband have lived for 20 years.

"We saw the flames. They were getting very close to the house, and we were waiting for the firefighters to get here, and eventually they did get here, but it was out of control," Perez said.

She said they've had brush fires before, but as the flames crept closer to their back door, she said she was convinced their belongings were about to go up in smoke.

"The fire was really out of control, and we took the dog, we took the belongings, we took the cars, and we were very scared," she said.

With her home in the crosshairs, Perez said she flagged down firefighters who confronted the flames from her backyard, stopping them just feet from her fence.

"I was very scared," she said. "(It was) not until I saw the fire rescue arriving at my house that made me feel a little bit at ease -- a little bit. It's not a guarantee, but at least they were here."

It took fire crews more than four hours to knock down the fire, and they said it put up a pretty hard fight.

No homes were damaged and no people were injured.

The Florida Forest Service assisted county firefighters, Lay said.

Another brush fire broke out Saturday in the Redlands area of southwest Miami-Dade County. 

That fire burned through about 25 acres of brush, but firefighters were able to keep the flames away from nearby homes. 

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